Content Detail

Buffalograss is native to the western areas of the tallgrass prairie. It is sometimes listed as native to the Chicago region, but it is thought to be introduced from further west. This is a low-growing, warm season, running grass.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Ground cover, Perennial
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches), Small plant (6-12 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Other
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • More information


Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to a large portion of the Midwestern and western United States, this grass is common in arid zones.

Leaf description:

The leaves of this grass are very fine, only 1/8 inch wide and 3 to 6 inches long. The gray-green leaves curl a little and will be straw-colored from mid-fall to mid-spring.

Flower description:

Flowering occurs at different times over the wide native range of this plant. In the Midwest, the majority of flowering will occur May through July. Male and female flowers usually occur on separate plants (dioecious), but some plants may produce both male and female flowers (monoecious). The  male flowers are tiny and  held in two-rowed clusters while female flowers are clustered into groups. The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description:

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) are held in bur-like clusters.

Plant Care:

Buffalograss requires full sun and is very tolerant of drought. It can be used as a ground cover or a low maintenance lawn. As a lawn replacement, it has some limitations as it is  dormant from mid-fall to mid-spring and will be straw colored at that time. It does not tolerate high moisture conditions nor heavy foot traffic.

List of pests and diseases:

No serious disease or insect problems. Stolons can cause this grass to spread into areas where it is not wanted.

Cody buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Cody’): 

This cultivar has several improved characteristics, including faster establishment, darker blue-green color, higher density, good cold tolerance, and excellent drought tolerance.

Legacy buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Legacy’): 

Dark blue-green color and soft narrow blades characterize this cultivar of all female plants.

Texoka buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Texoka’): 

This cultivar contains a mix of ten different selections of buffalograss from Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Adaptable to most of the United States.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift